Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Have Yourself A Merry Little Session edition

It's the holiday season, which means bill file & chill for most lawmakers. But others have spent the seaon rockin' around the Speaker's dais, because it's never too late to get on the naughty list.
  • I Heard the Bells on Election DayMichigan has a special history of year-end session shenanigans ("right to work" passed in December 2012, and the last big push to gerrymander the Electoral College by allocating votes based on which candidate won a congressional district was in November 2014).
    • Welp, they've done it again. Last week, at 5 p.m. on the last day of joint session for the year, Republican leaders in the state House and Senate began scheming to pass SB13, a measure that eradicates straight-ticket voting in the state. 
    • Legislative maneuvers had been going on for weeks, and for a while, it looked like the bill would get tabled at least until the new year.

Yeah, not so much. 
    • The bill ending straight-ticket voting just barely scraped by in each chamber. At 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday nightMichigan Republicans successfully executed their latest manipulation of democracy in the state (among other things, I'm specifically referring to the fact that Democrats received more votes than Republicans for state House in 2012 and in 2014, but Republicans retained a majority in the chamber both years).
      • Michigan Republicans last tried to deny voters the option to vote straight-ticket in 2001, but Democrats launched a petition drive, and voters overturned the measure at the ballot box.
    • Republicans in the state Senate wouldn't give Michigan's citizens the chance to thwart GOP machinations again. They added a $5 million appropriation to the measure -- a ploy that immunizes it from a citizen referendum. 

Because Democrats make voting easier, and Republicans make it harder.

  • It's Beginning to Look a lot like DarknessWisconsin Gov Scott Walker surprised no one last week by signing into law legislation eradicating the state's nonpartisan election watchdog board and overhauling campaign finance laws. 
    • As a refresher, in addition to dismantling the Government Accountability Board, the new laws 

      • No longer require donors to disclose their employers.
      • Double contribution limits.
      • Allow unlimited corporate donations to political parties and legislative campaign committees.
      • Expressly permit coordination between candidates and issue advocacy groups (which don't have to disclose their donors) as long as communications don't include those magic "express advocacy" words of "vote for," defeat," "support," and the like. 
    • Gov. Walker was so proud of signing the legislation that he didn't even tell anyone he was doing it. The Republican lawmaker who sponsored the bill spilled the beans on Twitter. Gov. Walker publicly owned up to signing the measure three hours later
I mean, why wouldn't he be proud of turning his state into a dark money haven with ineffective oversight?

Wisconsin does not have a death penalty law, but with significant practice and careful aim, law abiding citizens can help clean our society of these scum bags. 
    • Rep. Gannon proceeded to offer, um, tips on technique:

A gang banger in the mall with a gun is going to think twice if there could be a law abiding CCW holder standing behind them fully prepared to shoot center mass.

Remember, kids: Head shots are for zombies.

  • Here we come a-bankrollingMontana's elections watchdog is alleging that the National Right to Work Committee has been illegally bankrolling and managing campaign activities for Republican legislative candidates since 2008. 
    • Services provided by the National Right to Work Committee to candidates who accepted the "package" included assistance with fundraising, website production, voter research, direct mailings, voter ID lists and general campaign advice, according to the state's Commissioner of Political Practices. 

More like National Right to Buy Elections Committee, amirite?
    • The trial in which these allegations were levied is scheduled for March 28


  • Booze ChristmasNew Mexico (and new Chair of the RGA!) Gov. Susana Martinez might have gotten a little too caught up in the spirit of the season last week at her staff holiday after-party. 
    • After "troublesome" guests in her group's hotel room wouldn't chill out or leave, an Eldorado Hotel employee called the police. 
    • After learning of the call, Gov. Martinez tried to throw her gubernatorial weight around to find out who ratted her out and to convince the police dispatcher to chill out. 
    • She ended up apologizing, sort of, because she insists the party just wasn't the rager described by hotel employees. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • While minorities and women remain underrepresented in state legislatures, these groups are best represented in Democratic caucuses.
      • Women comprise 35 percent of Democratic state lawmakers but only 17 percent of Republicans.
        • Women make up the majority of the Democratic caucuses in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Utah.
    • Also, minority groups are better represented among Democrats (33 percent) than Republicans (five percent).
      • Minorities fill the majority of Democratic seats in the Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Nevada statehouses.
      • In nine Southern states, a majority of Democrats are black.
      • In New Mexico, the majority of Democrats are Hispanic.

    • Speaking of Colorado... Keep an eye on the redistricting "reform" proposal out there. 
      • While Initiative 55 drafters claim the effort is "bipartisan," no actual Democratic leaders or elected officials seem to have been involved in the process. 
      • The crafting of the measure's redistricting "priorities" was notoriously opaque, and groups like Common Cause, the NAACP, and civil rights leaders are justifiably skeptical of the whole affair.

It's just so weird that Republicans only seem to want to change the existing partisan redistricting process in states where it's likely to be controlled by Democrats post-2020: Colorado, MarylandIllinois

The following 2 state legislatures are meeting actively this week: PENNSYLVANIA and WISCONSIN.


The Twin Falls City Council met December 21 to consider approving a request to add the words "or vaping" to the signs in parks that currently read "thank you for not smoking." 


The Springfield City Council met December 21 to discuss a prohibition on the sale of loose cigars. 


The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee met December 21 to discuss A.B. 4275, which establishes the New Jersey Secure Choice Savings Program to create a retirement program for private sector workers.

Friday, November 20, 2015

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fear edition

Thanksgiving is still almost a week away, but it's never too soon to express gratitude for all the state legislative shenanigans that warm our hearts and/or chill our bones. 

Personally, I'm thankful that there's never a dull week in state legislative politics. And I'm grateful that you let me snark about it at you. 

(Action plan!) 
    • While I'm certainly biased, it's difficult to dispute that the most important parts of the report to the future of the party are the sections on Redistricting and Building the Bench. 
      • Thing is, they both rely heavily in more Democratic investment in state legislative races. Will Democratic donors put their money where their mouths are? 
We'll see!
    • The DCCC got in on the reflection action this week, too, as it announced "The Majority Project," which aims to pick up congressional seats by relying less on top-of-ticket turnout and more on analytics and targeting in suburban, exurban, and other seats with less-dense Democratic populations. 
    • Fun fact! The DCCC and the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee operate similarly that way. 
      • While statewide and presidential candidates can run up vote totals by targeting Democratically-dense areas like urban centers to win a majority of votes in a state, Democrats can only construct legislative majorities by winning seats outside of those statewide targets. 
      • Practically speaking, a presidential campaign and statewide caucus/legislative campaign operation are not going to have much target overlap. 
    • The DLCC's navel-gazing is long over. The committee's already working with states all over the country, especially in the hundreds of targeted state legislative districts it's already identified that will flip legislative chambers this cycle, next cycle, and in 2020. 

  • Don't panic: ...unless you're a GOP lawmaker freaking out about Syrian refugees, because it seems like they almost can't help it.
    • GOP state Representative Tony Dale thinks Texas should refuse to accept Syrian refugees because it's just too easy to purchase guns there. 
      • The lax gun laws in his state exist because of NRA-backed lawmakers like... Tony Dale
Pro tip: If you've never actually read the Quran or otherwise have investigated what the Islamic faith actually entails, maybe shut up about what you imagine its "religion and philosophy" are. 
    • Republicans in Ohio bypassed the committee process to shoehorn an anti-Syrian refugee resolution onto the House calendar (it passed in the GOP-controlled chamber, but it's "toothless"). 
    • Republican Assembly leaders were among of a cadre of Nevada GOP lawmakers calling for Obama to prevent Syrian refugees from settling in the Silver State. 

  • The clinic at the end of the universe: Women's health clinics are on their way to virtually unreachable as more and more states unleash attacks on Planned Parenthood. The latest is in Utah, where GOP lawmakers unveiled their "blueprint" for the 2016 session this week. Priorities include permanently defunding Planned Parenthood and banning abortions after 20 weeks.  
    • In Wisconsin, Democratic lawmakers are introducing legislation that would create a new kind of conscience clause. Currently, hospitals and doctors don't have to perform abortions if they oppose the procedure; this bill would give doctors a right of conscience to perform abortions and other controversial procedures at certain hospitals, even if those institutions seek to prohibit them.
      • The proposal is, admittedly, a long shot under the current partisan and ideological climate in the legislature.

  • Life, the universe, and bathrooms: Also in Wisconsin, GOP lawmakers are pushing legislation that would prevent transgender students from using restrooms, locker rooms, and other related facilities that correspond with their gender identity. 
    • The measure would require schools to provide "reasonable accommodations" for transgender students to use a single-occupancy facility. 
      • Students seeking single-use accommodations would have to involve their parents in the request, placing transgender teens whose parents respond negatively to their gender identity at potential risk.
    • In an emotional hearing on Thursday, a number of high school students and parents of transgender teens testified against the bill. 
    • The Wisconsin Association of School Boards opposes the bill, too, as it would undermine the local control Republicans generally favor and impose a "one size fits all" approach. 

  • Time is an illusion. Lunchtime, doubly so: Whether we've actually gone back in time or if history's just repeating itself, we've definitely seen this show in Indiana before. 
    • After last spring's epic backlash over the state's so-called "religious freedom" law that essentially legalized discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers (until panicked Republicans rolled it back just a little bit), GOP lawmakers decided to take another, more creative, stab at codified discrimination.
    • Senate Bill 100 might be the most anti-LGBT LGBT rights bill ever. 
      • While it would protect LGBT Indianans from housing, employment, public accommodation, and marriage discrimination, all religious and religiously-affiliated organizations would be exempt and free to discriminate. (Example: A religious school could refuse to enroll a child of same-sex couple.) 
      • Religious leaders, religious facilities, and small businesses would be able to refuse wedding services or marriage counseling to same-sex couples.
      • Schools, employers, and businesses would be able to set policies on which bathrooms and locker rooms transgender people could use.-- which could result in transgender people being forced against their wishes to use the facilities of their birth sex.
      • Transgender Hoosiers filing a complaint against schools, employers, and businesses with discriminatory restroom policies would be forced to produce "evidence" to "prove" their gender identity.
      • Local governments would be prohibited from enacting better non-discrimination ordinances. 
      • Victims of discrimination could be discouraged from filing complaints by the $1,000 penalty that would apply to those deemed "frivolous."
    • The bill is drawing fire from both pro- and anti-discrimination groups. At least everyone agrees that it's terrible! 

  • Scott Walker's Ethics Defective Agency: The Wisconsin GOP's scheme to turn the state into the Wild Midwest of dark money politics has almost reached fruition. On Monday, Assembly Republicans gave final approval to two measures that dramatically undermine Wisconsin's campaign finance and ethics laws. 
    • Assembly Bill 387 will
      • End the requirement that campaign donors ($100 or more) disclose their employers, which will obscure which industries are trying to influence campaigns – a provision Gov. Walker must particularly favor, since he initially failed to disclose the employers of almost 5,900 of his $100+ donors in his 2014 campaign filings (one in four!).
      • Allow donors to make unlimited contributions to political parties and legislative leaders’ campaign committees. 
        • Those political parties and campaign committees will be permitted, in turn, to make unlimited contributions to candidates – a simple way around the newly doubled caps on donations to candidates ($1,000 for Assembly, $2,000 for Senate, $20,000 for governor and other statewide offices).
      • Explicitly permit coordination between candidates and interest groups – the kind that don’t have to disclose their donors – as long as that coordination doesn’t entail a specific request for an expenditure and an explicit agreement from an interest group to make that expenditure. Other communications between campaigns and disclosure-free special interest groups are totally permissible, even if they lead to spending by one side or the other.
    • This new campaign finance law could make Wisconsin a nearly consequence-free wonderland of dark money, because not only are Republicans loosening the rules on and obstacles to the flow of campaign dollars in the state, but they’re also killing the agency that oversees and enforces finance and ethics laws. 
      • The Government Accountability Board (GAB) was a bipartisan creation of the legislature in 2007. 
      • After the GAB had the temerity to investigate Scott Walker and other Republicans, the GOP suddenly decided that the agency, which is headed by six nonpartisan retired judges, would be better off it were split in two and filled with partisan appointees.  
      • Assembly Bill 388, which does just that, passed without a single Democratic vote in either chamber.
    • Gov. Walker has already signed into law another Republican bill that will prevent district attorneys from using the state's "John Doe" law to investigate political corruption and misconduct. 
Fun fact! In recent years, a “John Doe” investigation has resulted in six convictions of Walker's campaign aides and associates.
    • Gov. Walker will sign these bills into law any day now (my bet is next week when people are traveling for Thanksgiving and less likely to raise a fuss) over the ardent objections of Democratic lawmakers (who proposed alternative legislation that would actually strengthen campaign finance laws). 
    • Expect Wisconsin campaigns in 2016 to be awash in money from inscrutable sources with no GAB to enforce even these new, overly-permissive laws. 
Yeah, I know I've banged this drum already, but until Walker signs them, those bills are still just sort of hanging out there in much the same way that bricks don't.

As always, holler with any thoughts, questions, concerns, complaints, comments, hopes, dreams, Vogon poetry (on second thought, skip that last bit).... 

The following 5 state legislatures are meeting actively this week: ILLINOIS, NEW HAMPSHIRE, OHIO, PENNSYLVANIA and WISCONSIN.


The National Association of Insurance Commissioners will hold its Fall National Meeting November 19-22 in National Harbor, Maryland. 


The Council on Medical Assistance Program Oversight's Care Management Committee met November 18 to continue their discussion on the Medicaid Quality Improvement and Shared Savings Program. 


The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee met November 17 to address changes in public records access. 

The Agency for Health Care Administration held a public meeting November 18 to discuss rules concerning coverage of surgery services. 

The Senate Appropriations Health and Human Services Subcommittee met November 18 to discuss S.B. 234, which establishes a joint local and state dental care access account initiative to promote services by qualified dentists to medically necessary underserved populations. 


Louisiana will hold a runoff election November 21 for the offices of the Governor and Attorney General as well as 19 legislative seats. 


The Elections Emergency Planning Task Force Committee met November 17 to discuss potential scenarios that could impact elections. 


The General Court convened for a special session November 18 to address the heroin and opioid crisis. 


The House Health and Aging Committee met November 18 to discuss H.B. 248, which mandates that health plans provide coverage for abuse-deterrent opioid analgesic drugs as preferred drugs on drug formularies. 


The Legislature met for Legislative Days November 16-18 to hold informational hearings and receive updates on past legislation and reports from state agencies and task forces. 


The Department of Health and Environmental Control held a public engagement session November 19 to discuss the state energy plan and the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. 


The Department of Health will hold a public hearing November 20 to discuss amendments to the School Immunizations Rule. 


The Legislative Commission on Health and Human Resources Accountability met November 16 to draft legislation regarding drug testing of public assistance recipients.


The Speaker's Task Force on Urban Education met November 17 to discuss education alternatives, including online learning and charter schools.

Friday, November 13, 2015

November Rain edition

You think that, just because the off-off-off year elections are (mostly) behind us, things are quieting down?

Yeah, not so much. 

Obviously, Election Day 2015 was a thing that happened last week (except in Louisiana). And it was pretty good for Democrats, generally.
  • One-seat pickup in the Virginia House, breaking the GOP supermajority.
  • Four-seat pickup in the New Jersey Assembly, giving Democrats our largest majority there in 37 years
  • Sweep of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which will enable Democrats to block GOP gerrymanders of the state House and Senate in 2021.
  • Recalls of Koch-backed school board members in Colorado's Jefferson County -- a county that overlaps with Democratic state House and Senate pickup targets for 2016.
  • Passage of a Maine ballot measure strengthening the state's Clean Elections laws.
  • Some mayoral pickups and stuff

The meh news for Democrats is that neither they nor Republicans flipped any legislative chambers last week. Majorities were grown, majorities were shrunk, and the big brass ring of the Virginia Senate stayed in the GOP's hands.

The biggest (and most surprising) news of the night came out of Kentucky, where "unexpected headwinds" (or something) gave Republican Matt Bevin a historic win. 
  • Folks are understandably worried that Bevin is going to dismantle the state's breakthrough healthcare exchange, known as Kynect, since he campaigned on the issue and has since pledged to make good on his threat by the end of 2016
Fun fact! About 500,000 Kentuckians are covered through Kynect.
  • While the Democratic majority in the state House can't protect Kynect (it was created by Gov. Beshear through an executive order), Speaker Greg Stumbo and his caucus are now the only things standing between the GOP and 
    • new abortion restrictions, 
    • prevailing wage law repeals, and 
    • Kentucky becoming the next so-called "right to work" state. 
Funner fact! House Republicans have already filed legislation to defund Planned Parenthood next year. 

But that was last week! What's going on now?

  • Chinese DemocracyMichigan's post-Election Day sessions have become notorious for their shenanigans in recent years ("right to work" passed in December 2012, and the last big push to gerrymander the Electoral College by allocating votes based on which candidate won a congressional district was in November 2014). 
    • While the current term isn't technically "lame duck" in that a legislative election hasn't just occurred, it's seen the rise of another especially nasty partisan attack by Republicans on their Democratic colleagues.
    • On Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill that eliminates straight-ticket voting in the state (which is regarded as benefiting Democrats more than than Republicans). Republican senators also added a $1 million appropriation to SB13, making it referendum-proof.
Fun fact! The last time Michigan Republicans tried to eliminate straight-ticket voting (2001), the law was overturned by citizens at the ballot box the next year.

    • The bill (and the subversive move to keep it off the ballot) is generally thought to be retaliation for Democrats' refusal to assist in the passage of the "roads plan" Gov. Snyder just signed into law -- a plan described by the Detroit Free Press as "irresponsible, reckless, shortsighted, ill-advised, wrongheaded." 
    • Democrats' objections to the measure are justifiable; as badly as Michigan needs new road funding, cutting $600 million from the general fund (which means cuts to state services) and hiking registration fees by 20 percent is a pretty regressive and irresponsible way to do it.
    • So instead of coming up with a responsible way to fund the state's road, Michigan Republicans decided to make voting harder.
      • The availability of straight-ticket voting saves time. When voters have to spend extra time filling in all those extra bubbles for candidates they could have just selected by filling in that one bubble at the top of the ballot, voting lines get longer. 
      • When voting lines are longer, fewer people are able/willing to wait in those lines to vote. 
      • And when fewer people vote, Republicans win.
    • The measure passed the Senate this week, with two Republicans joining the chamber's Democrats to oppose it. It hasn't been scheduled for a committee hearing in the state House...yet.

  • Welcome to the JungleWisconsin is well on its way to becoming a haven of dark money shenanigans, if Republican lawmakers get their way. 
    • A controversial set of bills passed the state Senate in the wee hours of Saturday morning, after the Republican Senate Majority Leader had delayed the vote for two weeks (probably because he didn't have sufficient support from his own party to eliminate the state's campaign oversight board and gut campaign finance and coordination laws). 
    • Senator Fitzgerald finally scrounged up those votes last Friday, though, and a little after midnight, 18 Republicans voted to eliminate the watchdog Government Accountability Board. 
Fun fact! Twelve of the 18 Republicans who voted to eliminate the Government Accountability Board voted to create it back in 2007.
    • As a refresher, some of the shady provisions in the new campaign finance bill include:
      • No longer requiring donors to disclose their employers.
      • Doubling contribution limits.
      • Reducing financial reporting by candidates and committees to just twice yearly.
      • Allowing unlimited corporate donations to political parties and legislative campaign committees.
      • Expressly permitting coordination between candidates and issue advocacy groups (which don't have to disclose their donors) as long as communications don't include those magic "express advocacy" words of "vote for," defeat," "support," and the like. 
    • Some small changes to the measures were made by the Senate, so the Assembly with convene on November 16 to pass the amended bills. 
      • Scott Walker will sign them into law.
    • Assembly Democrats have proposed an alternative campaign finance bill that would actually strengthen the state's campaign finance laws and an amendment to the state Constitution that would prohibit changes to campaign finance law from taking effect until the members who voted for those changes face the electorate one more time. Don't hold your breath for a hearing on either of those.

  • Since I Don't Have You: The Speaker of the Kansas House has booted three of his fellow Republicans off the House Health and Human Services Committee because of their support for Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. 
    • One of the ousted Republicans thinks that Medicaid expansion would have passed the committee before their removal.
Fun fact! The three ousted pro-Medicaid expansion Republicans were also the only members of the committee with actual healthcare experience: One's a retired physician, another is a pharmacist, and the third served as the ED of a health foundation. 

  • Patience: SCOTUS has just agreed to take up the Virginia congressional redistricting case, pretty much guaranteeing that the current districts will remain in place for the 2016 elections. 
  • Don't Cry: Meanwhile, efforts to approve both congressional and state Senate maps in Florida stagger on. 
    • After the legislature's second special redistricting session ended last week in utter failure (just like the first one did back in August!), the process of redrawing the state Senate maps falls to the state's courts. 
      • But in a last-ditch effort to avoid court proceedings (and the associated discovery and depositions), Senate Republicans requested that the Court appoint an outside consultant to redraw the maps. A Leon County Court judge declined.
    • In congressional redistricting news, the Florida Supreme Court heard arguments on a proposed congressional map this week. A ruling could come, like, basically whenever.

  • Live and Let Die: So you want a wall calendar of crazypants (not a term I use casually! I mean... Cancer is a fungus! Which can be flushed out with salt water!) Nevada Assemblywoman (and U.S. House candidate) Michele Fiore posing with a bunch of guns? I think that's a little odd, but to each his/her own, and I won't judge your calendar if you won't judge my preoccupation with Batman. Or Virginia wine. Or... Look, just enjoy the heck out of your calendar, okay? Especially October. And December is just heartwarming. 

The following 7 state legislatures are meeting actively this week: ILLINOIS, MASSACHUSETTS, MICHIGAN, NEW JERSEY, OHIO, PENNSYLVANIA and WISCONSIN.



The Republican Legislative Campaign Committee will hold its Club 100 Retreat November 12-13 in New York, New York.

The Democratic Governors Association will hold its Senior Staff Summit November 12-13 in Middleburg, Virginia. 

The National Conference of Insurance Legislators will hold its Annual Conference November 12-15 in San Antonio, Texas. 

The Republican Attorneys General Association will hold its Fall National Meeting November 14-17 in Scottsdale, Arizona. 


The Department of Public Health and Environment held a public meeting November 9 to discuss the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. 


The Senate Study Committee on Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders met November 10 to discuss treating and preventing youth substance abuse. 

The Senate Cybersecurity Study Committee met November 12 to discuss the cybersecurity marketplace and identify opportunities for the cybersecurity industry in the state. 


The Senate Judiciary Committee met November 10 to discuss S.B. 509, which prohibits the intentional posting of sexually explicit material of another person without consent. 


The Legislative Task Force on Child Protection met November 10 to discuss efforts to implement the recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on the Protection of Children.


The Division of Environmental Protection held a stakeholder meeting November 12 to discuss the development of the state’s plan under the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. 


The Department of Health and Environmental Control held public engagement sessions November 11-12 to discuss the state’s energy plan and the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. 


The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission met November 9 to discuss Medicaid eligibility determination. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Calm Before The Storm edition

So it's Election Day 2015, which is a super normal thing in Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, and New Jersey. To everyone else, it's weird or, ahem, "bullshit." 

While I can't speak to how odd-year elections came to be in those other states, I do know that they have a totally innocent beginning in the Commonwealth (Virginia, of course, not Kentucky, because it's the original Commonwealth -- Kentucky was part of Virginia until 1792). 
  • Basically, Virginia's odd-year elections came about because of the 1851 adoption of a new state Constitution. The new Constitution allowed for the popular election of governors, extended their term from three years to four, and prohibited them from serving consecutive terms. The first popular election for governor was held later that year, and Virginia elections have been held in odd years ever since.

  • Who's afraid of Virginia's wolves? But you know what's not a Virginia tradition? Vandalizing candidates signs and offices in threatening ways. It's happened to two Democrats in the past week; a Hanover County Board of Supervisors candidate found a swastika spray-painted on one of her 4x8 roadside signs on Sunday morning, and state Senate candidate KIm Adkins arrived at her campaign HQ on Saturday morning to find a threatening message painted on the side of the building.
    • Adkins is running against Sen. Bill Stanley, who gained some notoriety last week for his staged freakout about some nasty messages a grieving father had posted on his Facebook page (which paled in comparison to the Senator's own previous threat to give someone "a face full of my Glock"). 
    • A vandal painted "Back oFF Bitch" and a target on the campaign office building. 
      • Adkins, a former Martinsville mayor and NRA staffer, supports the Second Amendment AND common sense gun safety measures. 

Virginia races to watch tonight: SDs 10, 13, 21, 29.

  • Fun fact! The state legislature is up in Mississippi tonight, too. The state House is the chamber to watch; Democrats need to pick up seven seats for an outright majority, which is a mighty big lift for one cycle, but our candidate recruitment was so solid that Republicans themselves admit the chamber is "in play." That's overstating things a bit, but watch for Democratic gains in the chamber.
    • An interesting Mississippi wrinkle comes in the form of a pair of competing ballot measures
      • Initiative 42 was initiated by a citizens' petition and would allow people to sue to seek funding for "adequate and efficient" public school systems.
      • The GOP-controlled legislature, apparently lacking confidence in the quality of those school systems, placed a competing measure on the ballot, helpfully known as Alternative 42. The Alternative measure says the Legislature will establish "effective" public schools, but "without" all that pesky "judicial enforcement."

  • Born to Run (for state Assembly): The lower chamber of the New Jersey legislature is also up tonight. Democrats will definitely hold our majority, and we may even expand it. Ten of the 80 seats to watch are Districts 1, 2, 5, 8, 11, 22, 24, 31, 33, and 38. 

  • Reform is just another word for nothing left to loseOne of the most under-exposed items on the ballot today is a measure in Ohio that would change the way the state handles legislative redistricting. 
    • "Reform" is a sexy-sounding word to attach to changes in redistricting execution, but, as Daily Kos Elections helpfully explains, the current proposal is far from ideal -- and it could ultimately hurt Democrats in the long run. 
      • The measure's biggest changes from the current system would be the addition of one more lawmaker from each party to the commission (making it the governor, secretary of state, auditor, and two legislators from each party, growing it from five members to seven) and the granting of veto authority to the minority party. 
      • If the maps pass along partisan lines and fail to earn the approval of two votes from the minority party, the maps are in effect for four years, instead of the full ten. 
      • After those four years are up, the commission reconvenes and votes on the maps again. If approved, even without any votes from the minority party, the legislative maps remain in place for the rest of the decade. 
    • This new system isn't necessarily any worse than the old system. It may even be a tiny bit better. But the ultimate practical effect of this "reform" measure is that the majority party will still be able to implement the maps it prefers for ten years without input or approval from the other side of the aisle. 
    • And the next time Ohio Democrats or citizens push for real redistricting reform (independent commission, anyone?), Republicans will point to this measure and say, Hey guys, we already did that, shut your pieholes. 

  • To clean or not to clean, that is the questionMaine voters are deciding whether or not to strengthen the state's Clean Elections Law by increasing disclosure, increasing penalties for violations of campaign finance and ethics laws, and implementing a stronger system of public campaign financing. 
    • Question 1 would also establish transparency and rules for a little-known period of dark money indulgence in Maine politics: the governor's transition fund. 
      • Currently, a governor-elect receives a mere $5,000 to cover operating costs incurred during the period between his/her election and actually taking office, during which a governor vets commissioners and other administration officials, begins work on the budget and other legislative priorities, and generally gets his/her governing apparatus into shape. 
      • To make up the difference between that $5,000 and what this actually costs, governors-elect can accept private contributions, which are basically unregulated and not subject to any transparency requirements. 

  • Viva Little Rock: Filing has just begun for state, federal, and judicial candidates in Arkansas. Elvis Presley is running for state Senate. That is all. 

The following 8 state legislatures are meeting actively this week: ALASKA, FLORIDA, ILLINOIS, MASSACHUSETTS, MICHIGAN, OHIO, PENNSYLVANIA and WISCONSIN.



On November 3, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, Virginia and 24 of the top 100 most populous cities will hold regularly scheduled elections to elect state executives, legislators, mayors and councilmembers.


The American Public Health Association will hold its Annual Meeting and Exposition October 31 - November 4 in Chicago, Illinois. 

The National Association of Medicaid Directors will hold its Fall Conference November 2-4 in Arlington, Virginia. 

The National Association of Attorneys General will hold its Fall Consumer Protection Meeting November 2-4 in St. Louis, Missouri. 

The National League of Cities will hold its Congress of Cities & Exposition November 4-7 in Nashville, Tennessee. 

The National Association of Counties will hold its Cyber Resiliency Forum November 5-6


The Governor’s Cabinet on Nonprofit and Human Services will meet November 4 to analyze existing public-private partnerships with respect to the state’s health and human services delivery systems. 


The Senate Committee on Criminal Justice met November 2 to discuss S.B. 386, which reduces the period of time that a minor’s criminal history record must be retained before it may be expunged. 

The Legislature is set to adjourn its special session November 6


The Study Committee on the Use of Drones will meet November 5 to discuss the use of drone technology in State Law Enforcement. 


The House Committee on Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor will meet jointly November 3 to discuss voting reforms, including proposals for all-mail elections. 


The Health Policy Oversight Committee will meet November 3 to discuss a series of topics related to the implementation of the Medicaid managed care system, including Medical Loss Ratio and rates and reimbursements for managed care organizations and providers. 


The House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee will meet for an executive session November 5 to discuss S.B. 67, which establishes a committee to study opioid misuse, methods to support patient access to opioids and the use of appropriate pain treatments.